Best Netbook of 2009 Toshiba’s NB208-N310

Toshiba may be new to netbooks, but the company are no stranger to petite. Toshiba’s NB205-N310 ($400) jumps into the market and takes a top spot in rankings. This primo portable not just delivers where it counts with the longest battery life up to now, it does so with flair and some great design decisions. Briefly, Toshiba has come a long way since flaming trails with its Libretto subnotebooks in the 1990s.

I am going to begin this review with the NB205’s only real “downer”: its pedestrian speed and guts. The guts are a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB 5400-rpm hard drive, which conjointly earned the NB205 a rather standard performance score of thirty-six in PC WorldBench 6. But that’s about the only thing that I’d relegate as “average” about the NB205-N310.

Toshiba spokespeople say that the NB205-N310’s six-cell battery may last for almost nine hours. Wrong. In our tests, the NB205 survives an astonishing 9 hours, 53 minutes. For a little perspective, that’s easily the longest time thus far that a netbook has been capable to run–and this is with the basic battery aboard. That alone catapults this netbook’s worth to a big top pick on the charts.

A killer keyboard and a touchpad to couple are essential for a champion netbook. After all, how useful is an machine if you can’t type on it without paining your hands? Toshiba scores by making the Chiclet-size cutout keys just big enough, and by sinking a large touchpad. This is simply the best netbook mouse pad to date. As entrants, the surface area of the strike zone is bigger than that on many full-size laptops! Next, the beefy mouse buttons camp at the south edge of the machine–easing hand strain. My physiotherapist would approve.

The N310 has good (though occasionally damped) color replication and supports an within reason precise resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels on its shiny 10.1-inch screen. I noticed a few dark spots that got washed into a splotch or two–but otherwise, the images looked plenty sharp.

Its configuration appears fairly basic on the surface: three USB ports, an SDHC card reader, a Webcam, one VGA-out, ethernet, and headphone and microphone jacks. But it’s put together in a 2.9-pound package and with an sense of style that does not look or feel cheap the least bit.

Toshiba also adds a couple of extras to the NB205-N310 that are sure to charm to people on the go–and even truer to IT departments looking for cheap PCs to a mobile workforce. One known perk is a pass-through USB port that enables users to charge USB-powered devices while the computer is off. This netbook also allows an internal accelerometer to protect the hard drive in case of falls and it offers wireless WAN support as an option.